The Wretched of France
The 1983 March for Equality and Against Racism
Published by: Indiana University Press
In 1983—as France struggled with race-based crimes, police brutality, and public unrest—youths from Vénissieux (working-class suburbs of Lyon) led the March for Equality and Against Racism, the first national demonstration of its type in France.
As Abdellali Hajjat reveals, the historic March for Equality and Against Racism symbolized for many the experience of the children of postcolonial immigrants. Inspired by the May '68 protests, these young immigrants stood against racist crimes, for equality before the law and the police, and for basic rights such as the right to work and housing. Hajjat also considers the divisions that arose from the march and offers fresh insight into the paradoxes and intricacies of movements pushing toward sweeping social change.
Translated into English for the first time, The Wretched of France contemplates the protest's lasting significance in France as well as its impact within the context of larger and comparable movements for civil rights, particularly in the US.
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: The Protest March as an Index of Social and Racial Tensions in France
1. The Laboratory of Les Minguettes: The Micro-History of a Working-Class District
2. Riots or Rebellions? 'Urban Youths' on the Borders of the Political
3. The Fear of Rebellion
4. The Unlikely Construction of an Anti-Racist National Consensus
5. The Ambiguities of the Parisian Apotheosis
6. Divided Memories
Conclusion: After the March: The Challenges of Postcolonial Politics
Afterword: From 1983 to 2020: Reflections on an Enduring Problem of Racism and Revolt
"In The Wretched of France, Abdellali Hajjat explores the complex interface between historical patterns of racial and social exclusion and marginalization in France and traces the challenging path to political visibility through activism, mobilization, and protest. The book is of utmost relevance to contemporary global conversations about anti-racism, diversity, inclusivity, and multiculturalism and provides invaluable insights into how ethnic mobilization continues to shape calls for individual freedom, equality, and social justice today. "~Dominic Thomas, author of Black France, Letessier Professor of French and Francophone Studies, UCLA
"The March for Equality and Against Racism was a turning point in the history of France's relationship with its postcolonial immigrants and ethnoracial minorities. In this compelling study, Abdellali Hajjat produces the first rigorous empirical account of the genealogy and sociology of a too often mythicized social movement, masterfully analyzing its political meaning and illuminating its blind spots."~Didier Fassin. James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study
"Abdellali Hajjat's The Wretched of France, an exhaustively researched, sharply analytical, elegantly constructed explication of the 1983 March for Equality and against Racism, was pathbreaking when it came out in French in 2013. Now with a new Afterward, sketching the posthistory of racism and revolt, it remains essential reading, in both French and English, today. Melding archival research, interviews, close readings of the press and other media, with deep knowledge of French postcolonial history and the sociological and political science literatures on race and racism, and anti-racist political mobilizations on both sides of the Atlantic, Hajjat offers a uniquely original and powerful explanation for this crucial moment and its afterlives. "~Leora Auslander, Arthur and Joann Rasmussen Professor of Western Civilization, University of Chicago